Associate Supreme Court Justice Scalia has passed away.
Having said this (from The Wall Street Journal)…
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who died Saturday at the age of 79, will be remembered as one of the court’s most influential, trenchant and controversial voices. Below are a few outtakes from some of the more influential and notable opinions from his storied, 30-year career on the court.
•D.C. v. Heller (2008) By a 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court struck down Washington, D.C.’s blanket ban on handguns, ruling for the first time that the Second Amendment confers a right to bear arms in one’s home. Justice Scalia wrote the majority opinion.
There are many reasons that a citizen may prefer a handgun for home defense: It is easier to store in a location that is readily accessible in an emergency; it cannot easily be redirected or wrestled away by an attacker; it is easier to use for those without the upper-body strength to lift and aim a long gun; it can be pointed at a burglar with one hand while the other hand dials the police. Whatever the reason, handguns are the most popular weapon chosen by Americans for self-defense in the home, and a complete prohibition of their use is invalid.
• Kyllo v. U.S. (2001) The court ruled that the government couldn’t use thermal imaging technology to detect a suspected marijuana-growing operation without a warrant. Justice Scalia wrote that the use of sense-enhancing technology not in public use to gain information within the home constituted a search under the Fourth Amendment.
We have said that the Fourth Amendment draws “a firm line at the entrance to the house…That line, we think, must be not only firm but also bright which requires clear specification of those methods of surveillance that require a warrant. While it is certainly possible to conclude from the videotape of the thermal imaging that occurred in this case that no “significant” compromise of the homeowner’s privacy has occurred, we must take the long view, from the original meaning of the Fourth Amendment forward.
• Printz v. U.S. (1997) The court held, 5-4, that a federal law requiring local law enforcement to conduct background checks on gun purchases was unconstitutional. Justice Scalia wrote that the federal government may not compel the states to enact or administer federal programs.
Congress cannot circumvent that prohibition by conscripting the States’ officers directly. The Federal Government may neither issue directives requiring the States to address particular problems, nor command the States’ officers, or those of their political subdivisions, to administer or enforce a federal regulatory program. It matters not whether policymaking is involved, and no case by case weighing of the burdens or benefits is necessary; such commands are fundamentally incompatible with our constitutional system of dual sovereignty.
• Vernonia School District v. Acton (1995) The court ruled 6-3 that public schools could randomly drug test student athletes. Justice Scalia wrote that the privacy interests compromised by giving urine samples under the district’s policy were negligible.
Just as when the government conducts a search in its capacity as employer (a warrantless search of an absent employee’s desk to obtain an urgently needed file, for example), the relevant question is whether that intrusion upon privacy is one that a reasonable employer might engage in, see O’Connor v. Ortega, 480 U. S. 709 (1987); so also when the government acts as guardian and tutor the relevant question is whether the search is one that a reasonable guardian and tutor might undertake. Given the findings of need made by the District Court, we conclude that in the present case it is.
• RAV v. City of St. Paul (1992) Justice Scalia wrote the majority opinion in which the court struck down St. Paul, Minn.’s crime banning “hate-crime,” for violating the First Amendment’s free-speech guarantee.In so doing, the court tossed aside charges against a group of teenagers that burned a cross in the yard of an African-American family.
The dispositive question in this case, therefore, is whether content discrimination is reasonably necessary to achieve St. Paul’s [p396] compelling interests; it plainly is not. An ordinance not limited to the favored topics, for example, would have precisely the same beneficial effect. In fact, the only interest distinctively served by the content limitation is that of displaying the city council’s special hostility towards the particular biases thus singled out. [n8] That is precisely what the First Amendment forbids. The politicians of St. Paul are entitled to express that hostility — but not through the means of imposing unique limitations upon speakers who (however benightedly) disagree.
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Let there be no mistake about our belief that burning a cross in someone’s front yard is reprehensible. But St. Paul has sufficient means at its disposal to prevent such behavior without adding the First Amendment to the fire.
The Internet is rife with both praise and derision for this Justice. I shan’t post the hateful texts here. There is Great Fear amongst the conservative and libertarian elements of society that without his swing vote, and Constitutionally-measured opinions, that ‘we’ (civil libertarians, gun owners/carriers, and American Society at large) are doomed. Doomed to the progressive, post-Constitution era of further governmental intrusion on rights, and final loss of the America in which we were raised.
His body wasn’t even cold, when The President announced he would find a suitable replacement, and (some) Republicans suggested The Senate block ANY appointment for the next eleven months (until the next President could be sworn in)!
In other words, politics as usual.
God Save The United States Of America (while I’m still allowed to post this!)